Orlando's AdventHealth CEO says peak hospitalization is yet to come, but 'I wouldn't hesitate to go to Disney'

click to enlarge AdventHealth CEO Terry Shaw on Sunday - Screenshot via CBS Face the Nation/YouTube
Screenshot via CBS Face the Nation/YouTube
AdventHealth CEO Terry Shaw on Sunday
Sunday brought another record-high coronavirus caseload in Florida, registering 15,300 new cases in one day and overtaking New York's same-day record of 12,274 in April.

One of the hallmarks of the Empire State's crisis was the overburdening of hospitals in March and beyond. Now, as Florida takes center stage globally, Central Florida hospitals are weighing in with their current numbers — and with dire warnings that the crisis has not yet reached its worst point.

One CEO who has worked with Walt Disney World says that's not enough to stay away from Disney's reopened theme parks.

On Sunday morning, AdventHealth CEO Terry Shaw appeared on CBS's Face the Nation, where he said, "Based upon the testing, my guess is that the peak is sometime in front of us in July."

"We're much better prepared in July than we were in March," Shaw said, but he added that "it's a very stressful time in Florida."

That's an understatement. Disney World reopened to the public on Saturday, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis refuses to issue a mask-wearing order. The Orange County Convention Center and the ESPN Wide World of Sports are preparing to host a national AAU volleyball tournament that starts Tuesday, and statewide, children are being sent back to schools in August.

"I wouldn't hesitate to go to Disney, as a healthcare CEO, based upon the fact that they're working extremely hard to keep people safe."

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Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan noted that Disney has hired AdventHealth to advise the park on reopening, noting that "ICU availability in that area is pretty tight."

"Is it a good idea to open theme parks?" Brennan asked.

"So, as a healthcare provider, my job is to help people do things safety," Shaw began. "Whether it's NASCAR or Disney, we have strategic alliances with those organizations. We're worked very closely with them, to help them determine a way to reopen, and do that safely."

"I will tell you, based upon the way that Disney is approaching this, with limiting people in, doing all the screenings that they're doing, I will tell you I personally am a Disney season ticket holder," Shaw continued. "I wouldn't hesitate to go to Disney, as a healthcare CEO, based upon the fact that they're working extremely hard to keep people safe."

According to the state Department of Health dashboard on Monday, the state has had 18,498 resident hospitalizations, with Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties handling the highest numbers of current COVID-19 patients.

Orange County hospitals are currently caring for 564 patients, and a total of 83 in the county have died. Osceola has 224 hospitalized patients, and Volusia has 319.

The state only began reporting hospital data next week. Last Tuesday, Seminole County health officials expressed concern over hospitals reaching capacity and becoming overwhelmed after the Fourth of July weekend. On July 4, a then-record 163 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in Seminole, leaving only 13 percent availability of hospital beds, until Tuesday brought 40 more to the county's four hospitals. Monday's latest count has Seminole tighter still, now at 208 hospitalized, leaving only seven adult ICU beds open, or 9.6 percent availability.

According to Florida's Agency for Healthcare Administration on Monday afternoon, Orange County has 101 adult ICU beds available, or 27.7 percent. Volusia has a relatively robust 107, or 38.8 percent. Osceola has 36 adult ICU beds available, or 28.4 percent.

Considering the state's coronavirus cases have spiked so dramatically in the two weeks since the July 4 holiday, let's hope Disney can contain the spread of COVID-19 while they spread the … magic.

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